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Bicycle Accidents: Motorists May be Liable for Dooring

Friday, April 15, 2016

As more Americans realize the health and wellness benefits of bicycling, bicycle accidents are becoming more common. In most jurisdictions, bicycles must follow the same rules as cars and liability in an accident is determined using the same methods as in an accident involving two cars.

"Dooring" is a type of accident that primarily impacts bicycles. Dooring occurs when a motorist opens his door into traffic, either striking a cyclist or placing an obstacle in the cyclist's path. Dooring can cause severe injuries either through the direct impact or by pushing a cyclist in front of a moving vehicle.

The risk of dooring is exacerbated by the instructions that cyclists are often given about how to ride. Many state and local governments ask bicyclists to ride to the right of the lane. This places them in an area where they are at risk of being hit by a door.

Most jurisdictions have laws against unsafely opening a door into traffic. For instance, California's vehicle code 22517 states: "No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic...". Laws against unsafe opening of a door create an infraction that police or accident investigators can cite during an accident investigation. Such a citation can help to define liability during an accident.

If you have been hit by a car door while riding your bicycle, you may be due compensation for your injuries. To find out more, please contact us.


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